At The Point Resort in upstate New York, I help myself to a glass of champagne from a snow bar, nestled on a frozen lake, beside a roaring midnight bonfire. Though I’ve just gobbled my way through a multi-course, gourmet meal mere hours ago, I grab a handful of truffled popcorn from the bowl being passed around. Leaning back in my fittingly bonafide Adirondack chair, eyes wide with awe, I inhale the pine-perfumed breeze, listen to the rhythmic lapping of the water, and gaze gratefully up at the lollapalooza of stars. And then, yes, I go for another glass of champagne.
At The Point Resort in upstate New York, I help myself to a glass of champagne from a snow bar, nestled on a frozen lake, beside a roaring midnight bonfire.
If this all sounds like an indulgence worthy of Jazz Age revelers or Gilded Age sophisticates, I can only say that I follow in their footsteps as one must at this storied retreat. A long history of pampering paves the way for me at this former summer home of the Rockefeller clan. An all-inclusive, adults-only, Relais & Chateaux outpost, wedged into New York’s Adirondack State Park, the eleven-suite hideaway rims Upper Saranac Lake, surrounded by forests, foliage and mountain-scape. With a main house, various elegant outbuildings that serve as suites, and a two-story boathouse-cum-villa, the compound compound grandly exemplifies (and supersedes”) the area’s many lakeside estates, places quaintly called “camps” back in the day by their original owners—names we recognize today as heyday titans of industry: the Vanderbilts, Astors and Carnegies, for example
To be invited was everything.
At the turn of the last century, some 400 of these craftsman-inspired “camps” dotted this mountain-stamped countryside. Built from local materials, the log structures featured twig furniture, hung animal heads and local stone. Not surprisingly, they also boasted the accouterments of fine living—including chandeliers, feather beds, silver teapots and delicate china—which were required for the dynasties to uphold their opulent, urbane lifestyles while ensconced in the remote nature. The sophisticates considered these rural vacations a cure-all for everything from tuberculosis to writer’s block. Like an annual restorative ritual, the extended getaways defined summer and the era’s social calendar. To be invited was everything.
Far from the bedlam and filth suffered by over-industrialized cities of the era, the pristine Adirondacks provided a place to enjoy fresh air and to dabble in athletic feats, like boating, swimming and tennis. Hosting and partaking of elaborate, formal dinners and weekend parties, the families and friends socialized nearly nightly, sometimes traveling for hours by boat, horse (or sleigh in wintertime) from one camp to another to see and be seen at at soirees and fetes. That glamorous scene re-creates itself at The Point today, offering guests an intimate, festive, house party feel. Typical summer days begin with a lavish breakfast, followed by hikes, picnics in the woods and afternoons paddling canoes across the lake. In winter, one might snowshoe, ice skate or learn the art of curling, dexterously pushing a stone slab across the ice, while balancing a champagne flute. I do quite well at that game!
While outdoor pursuits prevail (after all, the Rockefeller motto was to be as active as possible), indoor pleasures at The Point also satisfy guests. Amid a fusion of modern comforts and original Rockefeller furnishings, fine art, artifacts and exotic carpets, guests repose before roaring fires with books, play card games or—my favorite—luxuriate in immense bathtubs, situated by picture windows that showcase the lake. Meals can be taken alone, but The Point honors the Rockefeller tradition of formal, group meals—especially dinners, which begin nightly with an all-resort cocktail hour. In summer, that may mean a sunset cruise on the resort’s vintage-style, electric boat or a cozy conclave in the period-decorated pub. Twice a week, the resort suggests black tie as a way to create an ambiance of bygone elegance. Besides satisfying appetites with epicurean dishes, these evening gatherings, held in the resort’s aptly named Great Hall, cement friendships between guests, yield illuminating conversations, initiate business collaborations and sometimes have even spark love. Inevitably, they prove the smallness of the world, when guests discover mutual acquaintances, a nearly nightly occurrence.
The service is so attentive and generous that you’ll either feel like you have become an honorary Rockefeller or were presented with a magic wand upon check-in.
It’s not just the environs and the amenities at The Point that will have you feeling like a Rockefeller or an Astor. The service is so attentive and generous that you’ll either feel like you have become an honorary Rockefeller or were presented with a magic wand upon check-in. Want just-baked cookies or truffle pizza in the wee hours of the morning? No problem. Hanker to forage for mushrooms with the chef? He’d be delighted. Want to propose marriage after a canoe ride on the water? They’ll set up champagne and a gourmet picnic on the shore. Want to bring your pets? They’ll be pampered like regal spawn. Ready to sled down a hill to the center of a frozen lake to access a bar? They’ll applaud you.
Even as I enjoy every moment at The Point I find I can’t stay in the present. All I can think about is when will I return? I mention this to the general manager, who engages daily with all guests. “Most everybody comes back. It’s like summer camp for grown-ups,” he says. And, then—he pours me another glass of champagne.